Mountain Lion Pounces on Unsuspecting Couple Relaxing in Rental Home's Hot Tub
The victim had four scratches on top of his head.
A Colorado couple just wanted to relax in the hot tub at their vacation home. They ended up getting the shock of their lives when they were attacked by a mountain lion on Saturday night, ABC News reported. The couple, who haven't been identified, were sitting in the hot tub outside of their Chaffee County rental house when the man felt something gripping the top of his head. Read on to find out what happened next and what experts say you should do if you ever encounter a big cat.
Commotion Caused Animal to Flee, Somewhat
The pair tried to scare the mountain lion away. "He and his wife began screaming and splashing water at the animal," Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement. "The victim's wife grabbed a flashlight and shined it on the animal, which they then identified as a mountain lion. The light and commotion caused the mountain lion to retreat about 20 feet from the couple in the hot tub." He added: "They continued to scream at the mountain lion and after a short time it moved up to the top of a hill near some rocks where it crouched down and continued to watch the couple." Ultimately the couple were able to run into their house and call for help, alerting the wildlife agency, CPW said.
Scratches Confirm Cat's Identity
When CPW arrived at the scene, they found the pair performing first aid on some very distinctive scratch marks. "The victim had four superficial scratches on top of his head and near his right ear," CPW. "By the time CPW was alerted and responded, the victim had cleaned the wounds and declined any medical assistance. The officers determined the injuries were consistent with the claw of a mountain lion."
Disappeared Into the Woods
The parks and wildlife officials searched for the mountain lion but weren't able to follow its tracks because of frozen snow on the ground, they said. Why did the cat attack? "We think it's likely the mountain lion saw the man's head move in the darkness at ground-level but didn't recognize the people in the hot tub," said Sean Shepherd, area wildlife manager.
Attacks Are Rare; Couple Reacted Well
"The couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the lion," said Shepherd. "Although this victim had only minor injuries, we take this incident seriously. We have alerted neighbors and posted signs warning of lion activity. And we will continue to track the lion and lion activity." This is the first reported mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado in more than a year. It's the 24th known attack of a mountain lion causing injury to a person in the state since 1990. Three of those attacks were fatal.
What to Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion
"People love to live in and visit Colorado for the chance of seeing wildlife — from a distance," R. Brent Lyles, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, told the Washington Post. "This encounter was obviously not the kind you hope for. While it is a rare occurrence, mountain lions are not infallible and can make mistakes."
If you encounter a mountain lion, experts walking away slowly—never run; that could active their hunting instinct—and make a scene."If a case of mistaken identity does happen, make yourself look as large as possible. Using your voice, lights, water or physically fighting back can be highly effective," Gowan Batist, the foundation's coexistence coordinator, told the Post. "Lions really don't want to tangle with humans."